Did you know we have something in common with birds? And no, I’m not talking about our mutual love of trees. Both birds and humans can suffer from health problems as a result of excessive light. This isn’t an issue new to this website, but I think it’s important to reiterate over and over again.
And this article nicely explains the connection. First, let’s go into why too much light is bad for humans. To begin, scientists are beginning to make a connection because excessive lighting and cancer. This is especially prominent in those populations that work the night shift. Nurses, security officers, and airline staff, to name a few, are suffering from alarmingly higher rates of cancer – up to 70 percent higher in fact!
But cancer isn’t the only problem facing humans who live in areas where there’s too much light at night. Apparently people who sleep in areas where there’s too much light at night are also suffering from higher levels of stress, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, and more. Urban spaces have higher levels of nighttime lighting than rural areas, so the problems are also more prevalent in city dwellers. No wonder city folks are often high-strung!
But seriously, scientists surmise that these health problems result from our inability to product melatonin when there’s too much light at night. This hormone, it seems, is crucial in the prevention of cancer.
And if that weren’t enough reason to reduce our use of overly bright lights, there’s the problem of wildlife. Birds are attracted to sources of light (seeing them as safe havens), especially when the weather’s bad. This means that in many cases, they’ll fly toward tall, lighted buildings, and often die by going head-on into the side of the structure.
What’s more, if they don’t perish by slamming into buildings, our small feathered friends fly into the light and then dwell there, just flying around because they feel secure. The problem is that they stay too long, and eventually fall out of exhaustion.
Birds aren’t the only ones suffering, either. Turtles (most of which are already endangered) stay away from their egg-laying beaches when there’s too much light. Insects become disoriented when it’s too bright. And bats have trouble, too.
What’s the solution? Dark sky lighting, of course. These lights provide illumination only where needed, reduce glare, and keep our homes and streets a little darker and our lives a little healthier.